Interview: Spectrum Aeromed





When immediate assistance is needed, often the quickest route to attain that is via air. In remote areas, hard to reach locales or places with little in the way of an actual hospital, an EMS-configured aircraft serves as the best option. Carrying life-saving equipment and/or a medical team, these aircraft act as a hospital in the air.

For more than 25 years, Spectrum Aeromed has supported this idea; designing and developing air ambulance medical interiors for hospital programs, military branches, multi-mission charters and charter operators, as well as custom VIP emergency medical interior suites for executive aircraft and heads of state. In 2018, the company achieved record growth and intends to continue its success, saving lives along the way. 

When did the company start?

The company was founded in 1991 by an air ambulance pilot and an aerospace engineer. The main motivation was to improve service quality of air ambulance services. They moved forward based on “there must be a better way of doing this”. 

And we’ve truly found that solution. Today, Spectrum Aeromed provides solutions for the most complex and comprehensive EMS aircraft interior requirements for fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft.

2018 was a record year for the company. How did Spectrum Aeromed achieve this record growth?

We always strive to do better and better each year. While the Asian market remains strong with the growth in sales of about 50% compared to 2017, we continued to do solid work in the US. In 2018, we really focused on following a strategic plan based on the following:

Customer service and customization — No two clients are alike. At Spectrum Aeromed each client has different requirements and we make sure to ask all the right questions to ensure every aspect of the EMS interior is exactly what is needed. Because certifications and regulations vary from region to region, we continue to be well-informed on standards that need to be adhered to. 

Innovation — As the EMS market grows, there’s more of a need to maximize space, utilize space in varying ways and quickly switch from one configuration to another.  Spectrum Aeromed’s engineers are always coming up with new ideas to help each operator utilize the equipment as best as possible.  A few of the latest innovations include Stacking Systems, Palletized Solutions for Military Platforms, Carbon Fibre Modules, New Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs) for ATR-42 / 72, Boeing BBJ, Boeing 777, Quest Kodiak, Pilatus PC-6, Pilatus PC-24, Phenom 300, Hondajet, Bell 429, Agusta 169 and the AS332L.

Developing the Military Market — During the past few years, Spectrum Aeromed took the time to fully-understand the needs of the military market, attending various shows across the world. We’ve seen these efforts pay off in 2018.

China has a promising EMS market. What are the trends in the region?

There are two trends we see for China. One is that operators purchase factory new helicopters and aircraft for EMS operations. These are mostly delivered to China with an EMS option installed by the manufacturer. We cooperate with the dominant market players to support the emerging EMS market in China.

On the other hand, we also see the first signs of our core market, which is supplying air ambulance units to existing operators, install EMS equipment onto their existing aircraft. This typically happens with aircraft aged around 10 years. 

Spectrum Aeromed is really embracing this growth in China. We work closely with the main rotary- and fixed-wing OEMs. We also spend a great deal of time educating Chinese operators on the different air ambulance missions, equipment options and operational support.

What EMS solutions are Spectrum Aeromed currently working on?

In addition to completing the new STCs mentioned above, we will revise existing certifications to add more dedicated air ambulance cabins. This includes mounting rails, electrical and gas outlets integrated in the aircraft sidewalls. Another rework option includes new oxygen options esp. liquid oxygen to our systems.

What factors are considered when determining which product is most suitable for a client?

Our priority is understanding each customer’s needs. For this we need to know what the mission profile is, which could vary significantly. Some operators may need life-saving equipment, while others may require equipment to transfer a patient from one hospital to another; we’ll additionally consider duration of flight, type of patients and aircraft model. 

What is the process from that point?

Once the requirements are defined, engineering starts working on a concept. The goal is to offer different options, which help the customer visualize what is really needed. We try to maximize the functionality of the solution within the given budget. This phase varies from producing the system, to designing and certifying minor changes, to customization of the systems to have the design meet the customer’s requirements. 

The design phase of the project typically lasts about six months, throughout which we are in constant contact with the customer regarding design and updates. Once this is finalized the built drawings and certification documents are created and production starts building the systems.

What are your expectations for Spectrum Aeromed in the coming years? 

We see a huge potential in air ambulance operations in the next years. Many regions are still under developed, with regards to air ambulance services. In addition, there is a trend to renew existing fleets. This trend is certainly towards large-cabin, long-range aircraft and those with lower cabin altitude. There are also many military organizations considering renewal of their equipment.

With this being said, there’s a lot of potential for Spectrum Aeromed. We are pushing to keep up with this rapidly growing market and coming up with more innovative ways to provide ‘Care in the Air’. Our goal is to become the best air ambulance provider in the world and with 2018 under our belt, I believe we are well on our way.

Robert Li